Rinkoo Barpaga is a deaf British Sign Language story teller. In 2012 he spent two weeks immersed in the American deaf story-telling and comedy scene, inspiring him to a new challenge; winning over deaf and hearing mixed audiences. In 2015 he received an Arts Council England Grant to take him back to America to seek his peers’ input on the new material. On returning to the UK, he created a story-telling performance, called,”Am I Funny”.
The marketing of the show was a total success, this was undertaken by Deaf Explorer using deaf ambassadors nationally to promote the shows and social media. The show has been booked and paid for by mac Birmingham, following a sell out first night at the mac. There are also further booking in the pipeline and the wish to make a new show, “Made in England”. A title fired by the audience response to Rinkoo Barpaga telling his story in a public space. The show attracted a large proportion of diverse deaf people. Deaf Explorer think there is a broader art form project to be done involving many South Asian deaf artists. By Rinkoo Barpaga telling his story in a public space he has spotlighted an unseen area of diversity in the Uk. Audiences said, “There is now a need to tell the story of South Asian Deaf living in the Uk and across the World.”
One review said, “Rinkoo Barpaga who has just delivered a sell out tour of his highly political and heart felt story “Am I funny” – Can a deaf comedian be funny in a hearing world; that reveals with great subtly and humour the inequality deaf people experience in the Uk by comparing deaf peoples lives in the USA, specifically in New York and Washington DC – that we learn stands for deaf city.”
The tour of “Am i funny” was eight shows in total, two at Birmingham at the Mac, One at Wolverhampton at the Arena and Three nights in London at The Etcetera theatre and Two nights at First Festival.
Feedback tells us that deaf and hearing audiences enjoyed the show. Our learning about the social media marketing to deaf audiences was that the show was branded a comedy, stand up show, rather than a theatre, spoken word show. There was expectation amongst deaf people that the show was stand up, and that Rinkoo Barpaga was the new John Smith (a popular slap stick deaf comedian who performs at Deaf clubs ) However it is Rinkoos goal to present a more complex and sophisticated comedy for deaf audiences, more equivocal to comedy as it is now for hearing audiences, like US comedian Aziz Ansari.
Go to his Facebook to find the latest news about his shows
11th June – Sunderland Deaf Club
26th, 27th and 28th August – Bristol Deaf Festival
17th September – Deaf Hub in Northampton.